Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

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By: Wiep de Vries, R.N.

An extremely infectious illness from the start of coughing until about four weeks later. Keeping your child isolated at home is important to prevent infection in others, especially babies. Immediately, and in all cases, understanding the public health responsibility and to make choices about treatment options including antibi­otics. The disease is dangerous for infants, especially under six months of age. Phy­sician involvement from onset of illness is urgent.


Incubation period: 7-14 days

Stage One = catarrhal stage.

The first sign is a harmless cough for 10-15 days, often a slight rise in tempera­ture, a runny nose, sneezing, and loss of appetite.

Stage Two = paroxysm.

Children develop the crowing noise (whoop) as they try to draw breath. Loud staccato cough, face may swell up and turn blueish. At first the coughing attacks dur­ing the night, then also during the day. The child may cough up mucus, may vomit or gag, or have a few seconds of not breath­ing. Exhaustion easily occurs. This stage can last for 20-30 days.

Stage Three = recovery. Coughing lessens, appetite returns. Full recovery may take two to three months.

Advice for Parents
Always handle the situation calmly and gently. Quietly encourage the child in this difficult breathing process to breath in and to cough again. Provide rest, comfort and consolation and a quiet environment without sense impressions.

Sedatives and cough-suppressants only increase the dangers of whooping cough. The cough then becomes more in­frequent and less strong, so that mucus remains in the lungs.

Warmth and perspiration
Wrap the child up warmly in bed and give hot Linden Tea so h/she sweats for some time. Then put dry clothes on and a lemon compress on the neck and throat or chest. Other remedies: a Lavender compress on the chest, Cuprum ointment on the soles of the feet. Your physician may prescribe Pertudoron 1 alternating with 2 (1-2-1-2-1) up to 5 times a day. A hot steam vaporizer is helpful near the bed. Add some eucalyptus drops. A cha­momile steam inhalation 2-3 times a day for about 10 minutes can bring relief.

Fluid intake
Drinks: After each paroxysm offer liquid nourishment. Give as many fluids as you can: herbal tea, diluted fruit juice, vegetable soup, spring water. Medicinal teas can include coltsfoot (flowers and leaves - equal parts) slippery elm, thyme, lobelia, red clover, marshmallow root or a combination: 1 teaspoon of each red raspberry leaves, coltsfoot, and lobelia. Pour on one pint of boiling water and steep for thirty minutes. Give a spoonful every hour until cough abates.

Give small, frequent non-acid, eas­ily digested meals. Offer fruits and veg­etables and avoid dairy products and fats.

Other Sources of Information:

The National Vaccine Information Center, Dissatisfied Parents Together 512 Maple Avenue West, #206, Vienna, VA 22180, (703) 938-0342.

New Atlantean Books, PO Box 9638, Santa Fe, NM 67504 has an excellent selection in their mail order catalog, several by Neil Z. Miller.

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